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Having world class spa facilities our properties is something that we take very seriously at Virgin Limited Edition! In order to make sure that our spas remain some of the best in the world, our Group Spa Manager, Helen Cain, is in charge of keeping our standards high. Helen is regularly on the road checking-in with our spa teams, but we managed to track her down and ask her some questions about her job and the recent changes she has witnessed across the industry.
Before you became the Group Spa Manager, what did you do?
I always knew that beauty was the career path I wanted to pursue from an early age when I used to watch my mum have her nails painted at the hairdressers. After completing my diploma in beauty and after a few years as a Beauty Therapist, I applied for a job with Virgin Atlantic as their in-flight Beauty Therapist in Upper Class. With no expectation I attended the hardest interview process of my life and was whittled down to the last 2 applicants. I couldn't believe it when I got the job! For 4 years I flew full time as an Inflight Beauty Therapist to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Tokyo meeting some of the nicest people and celebrities and living the life! I was the 15th Beauty Therapist to be taken on and when I left there were over 300 of us.
Over the next 14 years, I moved around Virgin Atlantic taking on various Beauty related roles. Unfortunately the decision was made to remove the service on board so I decided to apply for the role of Group Spa Manager for Virgin Limited Edition and was lucky enough to get it! I have been in this role now for nearly 8 years and it has continued to evolve - managing 4 spas initially to currently 6 around the globe.
How has your own attitude influenced the spa experience philosophy across Virgin Limited Edition?
I think I am just OCD in my expectation of a spa treatment! I don't believe in half measures, everything needs to be thought about down to a hanger being available to hang your clothes or the right music being chosen for the guest and this is why we ask the guest if they want music or if the music is right for them as everyone has differing opinions on what's relaxing. I am lucky enough to have travelled the world and experienced hundreds of spas so taking the best from each destination and creating a unique experience is my forte!
What are the big trends in spa right now?
People are divided now. They either want a quick fix for small investment in time and great results, often in their lunch break OR they want a value for money spa package where time is relevant to money but relaxation is key. I personally don't think this varies between a local salon to a 5 star resort as there is so much choice now that people will chose the best deal for a great product, however the Therapist needs to be experienced and at the top of their game to keep the clients coming back.
Do you think the way men approach spa treatments has changed in recent years? If so, what has changed?
Absolutely! Now men are often first to book a spa treatment over the women. It is acceptable for men to now say they have tension too and why shouldn't they treat it! We build the spa menus with both men and women in mind and can bespoke any of our treatments to suit the individual needs. When we talk about 'going the extra mile' I can confidently say that each spa at the properties will do this when asked, from changing the location of the massage to suit the guest to providing chocolates at the end of a couple's treatment. The treatments are focused on results and both men and women love this.
What makes the VLE spa experience so special relative to other top-end residential spas you have experienced?
Because we tailor our treatments and experience to the guest, this makes it different each time and not just a conveyer belt of treatments. We aim to give high class service and go the extra mile every time.
What do you think the future of luxury travel, specific to spa experiences, holds?
I think people want the whole package now. Consequently, more retreat style spa packages are emerging which include classes, healthy food and the treatments. I expect to see many more of these types of spa destinations in the future.
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